Orange Preconference ’14: “Understand the Effects of Social Media on Kids & Students” Notes

Unknown-4These are my notes from Jon Acuff’s “Understanding the Effects of Social Media on Kids and Students” Seminar at the Orange Conference 2014

Kids are growing up today in a different world than many of us.

“Everyday you should thank God you didn’t have social media as a teenager”

Our mistakes weren’t documented and commented on, blogged about or tweeted about like they are today

We’re the 1st generation to have to have a digital footprint conversation with our children.  It’s not just the birds and the bees talk anymore.

Good Books to look into:

  • “Alone Together”
  • “The Shallows”

We don’t know the full consequences of social media yet. So what do we do?

We need to help parents:

First thing is you don’t have to be as tech savvy as your kids. They are learning things so quickly and earlier than we, as parents do.

It’s not about technology…it’s about truth. What truths do you have as a family that you apply in all situations. Technology will change, but the truths you have as your family won’t.

You don’t have to be perfect at it to engage your children with technology. You won’t be as good as them but you can engage them.

Second, give them a real life filter. Give their digital world a real life filter. They may not understand why they can’t be friends with people they don’t know so give them a real life example (i.e., knowing them well enough to have a sleepover with). Put them in “real life” situations to help them understand what they are doing in the digital world. A good question for them to ask is ”would you do this in real life”

Third, talk to your kids before they use social media. The world starts talking to our kids a lot earlier than we do. We’ve given them a big head start. We need to start with this conversation earlier. We don’t just throw kids the keys to the car when they turn 16 without ever talking to them about it first. We shouldn’t just throw them into social media because they can. We should talk to them about it before they get on it.

Fourth, social media is a 2 way street. Even with a “private” account, students can get in trouble. We’ve protected one way of the street but both the other.

Fifth, privacy is a weird thing to give a 12 year old. We don’t have privacy as adults…we have “me” moments but we don’t keep things private from others in our family or your employer. 12 year olds are not built to have privacy.

80% of employers now google you before they hire you. Kids are creating a digital footprint now that can hurt them long term. “Privacy” hurts kids and we have to teach them the long term consequences to their digital activity now…even on those private accounts.

One idea to help, have an “outreach” night where we talk to them all about Social Media.

How do we help the kids?

First, show them both sides. Show them the good and bad. Sometimes we just show them the “evil” of social media without showing them the good. We make it a bad, dark thing. It’s not that. It can be an amazing thing. Jon and his twitter followers raised $30k to build a Kindergartens in Vietnam. That was part of social media.

Help them find the good of social media. You could help students/kids learn how to invite their friends to church via social media.

Second, don’t assume they are web savvy because they are tech savvy. Even though they are tech savvy, that doesn’t mean they know how to use it and what it means for them to use it.

Third, don’t cripple them with social media. Social media can be a great place for them to practice their passion (i.e. start a blog about their passion). It’s great for college resumes.

If we cripple them now, they get to college and don’t know how to use it properly.

Forth, kids aren’t learning how to talk to each other. Part of adolescence is leanring how to talk to each other. Now with smartphones they are texting and calling them but they aren’t talking face to face with each other.

It’s hard for kids to experience empathy because you aren’t talking to them face to face…it’s through phones. Conversations face to face don’t happen nearly as much anymore. Social media de-humanize people. It makes them ideas, not individuals. We need to learn people’s stories.

One idea: A phone free night.

Fifth, kids use social media to feel wanted. That is loneliness. They want to feel important. Social media medicates that and we have to be careful about that.

Sixth, social media creates a pressure to perform. Social media documents our “moments” for other to see and it causes others feel they need to live up to that moment.

A shift happened. At first social media was designed to document moments that happened us. NOW, we create moments to document them. We are “data-hoarders”…”moment-hoarders”

Don’t put your life on pause so you document things to others who won’t even care about it a few days, years from now.

One idea for kids is to turn off their phone when they go to bed.

Jon’s Final Challenge: Kids are watching us to know how they should live their life…and do social media. Let’s be examples. We have to be the pioneers to how to do it right.

As a father who has children now into social media, there were some great insights and reminders that I’m going to take home from this.  The 1st thing that stands out is to talk to my children about it…the good and bad.  We’ve already done this a little, but I probably haven’t given it the attention I need to.  Secondly is to be a positive example to my children about social media.  I don’t want to pause life for social media.  I need to be a better example to them about this.

What do you think of this session?  What can you take away from it?

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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